Saturday, July 12, 2008

France Rejects Muslim Woman

Freedom of religion, a constitutional right in France, is not a right extended to Muslim women who wear a burqa. Yesterday France rejected a Muslim women's bid to become a citizen because she wears a burqa.

French authorities claim that the burqa is incompatible with the notion of Frenchness and contradicts the national value that seeks equality of the sexes.

Faiza M (32), as she is known publicly, was born in Morocco until she married a French national and moved to France in 2000. She has three children who were all born in France.

Faiza M. speaks French but because she told authorities that she lives in "total submission" to her husband it was deemed that this demonstrated "insufficient assimilation" into French life.

Faiza M. appealed the ruling saying that she lived in harmony with French values but the Council of State upheld the ruling.

The Council of State heard legal evidence that decribed Faiza M's life as under the control of her husband and other male relatives.

The thinking in this ruling strongly suggests that France has just ruled that patriarchy and French citizenship is incompatible.

Should we now expect that Christian or Jewish women, for example, who are married to domineering French men are barred from citizenship, naturalized, or other?

And what will the test be to determine insufficient integration?

This case illustrates rising intolerance toward Muslims in France and elsewhere in Europe (see proposed minaret ban in Switzerland).

It is also hardly ironic that the government seeks to punish a Muslim woman for not being French enough to live with her French husband and children.

France is a decidedly patriachal society that can hardly claim that women enjoy equal status with men as a general rule. Faiza M. was rejected because she is a Muslim woman who wears a burqa in a nation who mostly want Muslims to leave.

This case is about being anti-Islam and anti-Muslim. And this virulent bigotry is being carried out on the body of a Muslim woman.

So much for freedom, freedom of religion, fraternity, justice, and equality under the law.


Image Credit


GiGi - The Shy Giraffe said...

hmmm.. this is a rather difficult topic for me for i personally don't believe in burqa.
however, for faiza to be decline french citizenship base on how she dress, faith and living.. thats whole lot of b.s. and injustice.

Ridwan said...

Hello Gigi thanks for your comment. Your position is one than many Muslim women hold.

Like you no-one in my family wears burqa or hijab. It has never been an issue even though the family down the street from us do wear hijab.

We choose not to see the burqa as Islamic. Other Muslims do see it as Islamic dress.

So there is a need to respect that view in terms that highlight freedom of choice and freedom of religion.

A woman should have the right to decide her dress without the state interfering. Anywhere.

Peace Gigi.

Anonymous said...

Scary stuff.

Interesting how the secular state posits itself as an all-embracing entity when it in fact enforces exclusion and alienation.

And again & again, how "citizenship" is used as a mechanism of control by the state, to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Chaffs unite.

Ridwan said...

Scary indeed Niteflyer. The nation-state is oppressive exactly for the reasons you state.

Marx was right when he pointed to the false consciousness that propped up the nation-state. There is no freedom and justice for all inside the nation-state, just elite interests.

Yeah the chaffs need to unite for sure.

Peace Niteflyer.


Anonymous said...

I agree with France's decision. I am a dual citizen French and British and I think that it is right for France to refuse to associate with these backwards beliefs. Yes, we should be tolerant of religion, but we should not be tolerant of oppression. I try to respect Muslim culture, but sometimes I feel as though as it's like asking me to respect Nazi culture. How can I respect something that so often is backwards, oppressive, intolerant, and violent? Of course, not all Muslims are like that, but come on--let's stop pretending like Islam is a great, peaceful religion. It encourages so maybe horrible traditions! Think about the incredibly high rate of women getting hymen reconstruction surgery. Maybe a little intolerance is exactly what these sorts of Mulims need to start coming to terms with the fact that women are people too.

Ridwan said...

Anonymous you forgot to tell us that Muslims had slaves before Europe, and that it was worse, and continues even today.


You are so superior and so above the supposed violence of Muslims and their uncivilized religion.

I wonder what aspects of "Muslim culture" you "respect"? Because you must know that there is not one "Muslim culture", right?

"Muslim culture" and Islam are also not one and the same thing.

Islam and Muslims are complex categories that defy the crap you have re-produced here.

What the hell does "hymen reconstruction" have to do with this case? Is Faiza M., or Islam for that matter, responsible for "hymen reconstruction"?

Tell me, why are European (white) bigots like you always so concerned with the vaginas of Muslim women?

What you have done here is to reduce Faiza M. into caricature of anti-Islam bigotry.

You sound like a broken record. Typically rehearsed in your intolerance.

How would you like it if your bi-national citizenry also came with the label of "colonial murderer" everytime you showed your face, applied for a job, or sought citizenship?

I mean it is hardly a secret that between Britain and France you come from a history that has perpetrated racist genocide over centuries.

I expect that you would want to disentangle yourself from that history and rather point to your civilizational accomplishments over 'Muslim barbarity'.

Also, when you reference Nazism you conveniently forget that Nazis were Christians. Why are you not implicating Christianity for Nazism instead of comparing Islam/Muslims to Nazism?

Your reasoning is faulty and grossly simplistic.

Do you even recognize how you are stereotyping Muslims into your essentialisms?

Please save us your misguided disdain.

France's decision was immoral and inhumane.

Faiza M. has a 'French' family and speaks French. Her burqa should not be a reason to break up her family.

Instead of supporting the decision you should be standing for decency and universal human rights.

Also, grow some courage and put your name on the crap you have posted here.


Shus li said...


The wearing of the burqa and the submission to her husband is Faiza M.'s choice.

Why is her choise less tolerated in France than the submission of Christian women to their husbands? I agree with you, it is because of thinly veiled anti-Muslim sentiment.

And...we all DO know that Christian women are to be submissive to their husbands, right? Please refer to Ephesians if there is any doubt about this.

Here is but one example of Christian wedding vows. Please note that the person "giving away" the bride, as though she were property, is usually her father.

"Pastor -- Who giveth this woman in marriage?"

The one giving away the bride replies

"Listen to the words of Holy Scripture as recorded in Ephesians chapter five, verse twenty-two through thirty- three.

Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything."

This sounds like grounds for barring citizenship, using the same standard applied to Faiza M. The only difference is the outward garb and the intolerance towards Muslims.

Just one woman's opinion....



Ridwan said...

Thank you for your valued comment Shusli. The scripture you raise is absolutely important and instructive.

So much of what goes for 'concern' about Muslim women is just bigotry.

I support the right of any woman, anywhere, to live as she pleases. No-one, and certainly not the patriachal state, has the right to tell women different.

Anyone who believes that all Muslim women are subservient and quiet in Muslim families/society has not spent any time among Muslims.

What I see in the French decision is a 'colonial' issue of control. The veil obstructs access and control so absolutely that it frustrates the colonizer (Frenchness as a value is a colonizing tool.)

The issue of assimilation is about control and dominion. In these terms it is telling that pro-assimilationists frame their arguments around the concern for the body of colonized women.

Angela Davis writes somewhere that the colonizer assumes automatic access and dominion to the bodies of women of color.

I think this decision represents much of the same colonial architecture.

Peace sista Shusli.

Ps. I have been reading Vine Deloria, Jr's "God is Red" and I so wish you and Eugene were closer so we could spend more hours immersed in discussion. I miss our marathon dinners and discussion. :)